Tag Archives: perfume

Avon Wilderness for Men: I Will Let You Into A Secret

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 I have been trying not to review this, but since I  wore it off and on for five days and loved it (to me , five days on the trot is a long unbroken run), I thought I’d better get it off my Non-Hairy chest.

For a long time now, I have been getting impatient with Avon fragrance for women. I finally gave up after my eighth bottle of women’s fragrance ended up with the same nasty basenote as the previous seven, for which certain eBay buyers are grateful. When they discontinued the fabulous Timeless, I was indignant.  When they brought out yet another series of new fragrances in their last brochure, all fruity floral, their fate was sealed. No longer would I order any more Avon fragrances for Women (with the exception of Avon Soft Musk, which is a jolly good Musk and excellent alone or used for layering).

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However, over in the Men’s section, there were all sorts of good things going on. With promises of Musk, Patchouli, Amber, Juniper, Grapefruit, Cypress Greens, Woods, Orientals, Lavender and Mandarin zest, suddenly my ears pricked up again.

I ordered a bottle of Wilderness for Men simply because I liked the sound of the notes: Amber and Patchouli are enhanced by wood notes and musk and hints of juniper and grapefruit. At 7GBP for 100ml, I figured this blind buy wouldn’t bankrupt me and I suppose I could always give it to my husband.

When it arrived from Jill, my Avon Lady, it was a very hot day and I wasn’t sure if I wanted Amber and Patchouli. Actually what I wanted was an icy Pimms, but let’s not be greedy.

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The Patchouli and Amber were remarkably refreshing and this may be down to the Grapefruit and Juniper lightening both notes up. The juice itself is sea green, with a black lid, and unlike the women’s fragrance range, it actually smells like its ingredients. I can easily pick out the Grapefruit and the Patchouli. There’s a slight powderiness to it too, that I like.  The powderiness falls into the chalky and clean category, like a fresh white mist, making this a great summer buy and smelling more expensive than it should at this ludicrously cheap price.  It’s an EDT rather than an EDP, so longevity is only around three hours, but as usual, I spray clothes and hair to make it last longer.

Finally my Avon brochure is back in favour, or at least the back half of it is.  Sometimes you have to move stuff if you want to find something.

Next Just Pink: And Other Budget Buys

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Since starting my blog, I have smelled hundreds of perfumes that have been completely new to me, the good (Amouage Dia), the bad (Halston Catalyst) and the ugly (Thierry Mugler Womanity).

I have smelled expensive scents that smell cheap and cheap scents that smell expensive.  My current perfume crush is Carillon Pour Un Ange which retails at around 99GBP for 50ml. I  have only small phials of it.  For Now.

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However, there is a place for inexpensive every day perfume that costs so little that you don’t get all miserly  and anxious when you’re down to the last cenitmetre.  There are several excellent options on the High Street right now.  Marks and Spencer are doing pretty good Imagethings with their affordable range.  I have already reviewed Per Una Originale and I have been told that Per Una Exquisite is a dead ringer for the much mourned Quelque Fleurs by Houbigant. The Body Shop stocks trusty White Musk oil, as well as their Scents of the World range (very pretty but longevity not great on me).

I have heard good things about the Next range of fragrances but had not encountered them myself until recently.  Yesterday I treated myself to an inexpensive bottle of Next Just Pink.   And it’s just fine.

For an everyday office scent, this fits the bill. It won’t break the bank at 7.50GBP for 30ml and if you find someone who loves it, they do admirable gift sets too. It  has three notes, according to Fragrantica: Green notes, red fruit and floral notes, so it’s pretty vague.

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Here’s what I think it smells like: Roses, Peony, Soft Musk, Freesia and a whiff of Violets.

It’s pretty, in a clean laundry sort of way and won’t offend anyone. It would also make a good fragrance for a young teen just starting out on their perfume Odyssey.

However, many reviewers compare Just Pink favourably to Ralph Lauren Romance.  I have a sample of this so I tried it side by side.  Ralph Lauren has slightly more depth, but surprise! Our budget buy outlasted it on longevity.  Note by note, there wasn’t much in it.

There’s a lot to be said for a well made, High Street perfume with a friendly price tag. I’ve smelled no end of mainstream new launch fragrances in the £30 for 30ml price bracket that have no more to offer than this. Next Just Pink is going in  the handbag.  *cough* along with the other seven I already have in there.  Must get round to sorting it out.

Andy Tauer Pentachord Verdant: Experience Required But Not Essential

 

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I’m a Green fan. I’m hard core. I like them bitter. The more bitter, the better. If you hate Green notes, I’d be amazed if you like Tauer Pentachord Verdant. And boy, is verdant the word!

The Pentachords are a series of three fragrances made up of five notes each. Its simplicity is its charm. Andy Tauer never has to please a committee when he creates perfume and that’s why I am a devotee of the brand. I always love to see what he’ll come up with next.

In topping up my depleting supply of Carillon Pour Un Ange samples (Cannot live without it now), I added a Pentachord sample to the cart, and I was surprised, by it, but not disappointed.

Firstly, there are no flowers here, it’s like a dark canopied forest with a freshly turned floor after a heavy rain. It’s green like nettles, leaves, broken ferns and moss. Not a whisper of a petal. Like I said, it’s hard core. The Petal People ran away scared, but the Green Guerillas merely tutted and marched on through the branches. This didn’t faze them.

Pentachord Verdant is almost one dimensional, in that it doesn’t change much, although there is a tangy basenote that I thought was Ambergris. In fact I was mistaken and it was Amber and Tobacco. To me, this smells like a green tobacco, unripe and unsmoked and still wet.

So extreme is this that it just about borders on smelling of leaf mould. It’s pungent but stops just before it goes off. It’s rank and high, like rotting undergrowth turning into new fresh soil ready for green shoots. Wonderful!

I can’t help thinking  that now I will have to track down the other two Pentachords: Pentachord White and Pentachord Auburn. This got my interest, kept it, and made me into a fan.

Tauer samples are available from Scent and Sensibility or Les Senteurs in the UK. Or if you happen to be in Zurich, pop into the shop and go nuts with your plastic. I know I would.

Paco Rabanne Lady Million: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

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Lady Million by Paco Rabanne established itself in my consciousness on three occasions before I actually tried it.

1. During Richard E Grant’s wonderful TV series on Hotels he was lying on a huge bed interviewing a famous ex groupie. After she had listed her conquests, he said “You smell fabulous, what is it?” Yep. Lady Million

2. Sitting at a  table in a very beautiful pub in Oxford, the next table was full of drunk women (nothing wrong with that, I have been one myself!). One of them was being encouraged to take her purchase out and try it, she did indeed. The familiar gold bottle was taken out of its cellophaned box and sprayed liberally over all and sundry. Yes, it was Lady Million.

3. In Wilkinsons at Christmas, hovering over the perfumes. The Assistant offered me Lady Million ( I ended up buying Blue Grass). Her colleague came up and said “Oh I love that, give me a spray!” and went off to finish her shift.

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photo by waugsberg

So it’s popular all over the world, and has a price tag of around 42GBP  for a 50ml EDT . However, It was a while before I realised what was turning me off. More of which anon.

Thankfully, Lady Million is nothing like her brother, Paco Rabanne 1 Million For Men, which makes me run away, with watering eyes and a rasping chest. 1 Million for Men is vile, loud and abrasive. You can smell it from thirty foot away. Thankfully, I don’t go to nightclubs any more, so I usually escape the toxic cloud.

Lady Million is white flowers, with Lily of The Valley, Gardenia and Neroli out and proud and dominating. Sadly, the white flowers smell horribly synthetic to me, or maybe I have been spoiled by better scents now.

The other sticking point with me is the Honey note. It seems to make the essential freshness of the white flowers sticky and cloying.  There is a place for sweetness in a perfume- Givenchy Amarige is a recent example of how sweet can work without sweeties, but in Lady Million the Honey took away the white, clean notes of the Gardenia and replaced it with something that left the flowers rather droopy and flat. It’s like a sticky stain on perfect white cotton.

It smells much cheaper than it is, and I have smelled cheaper scents that smell better too.  In any case, in not buying a full bottle of this, I am not only saving myself around 42GBP, but also escaping the fact that I will smell like everybody else should I wear it.  I call that a lucky escape.

Synthetic, over sweet, and ubiquitous, I’ll pass.

PS Thank you to The Fragrance Shop for kindly supplying this and other samples.

Escada Sexy Grafitti: What You Can’t Fight, Embrace.

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For all my rants and grouchiness about ubiquitous fruity floral fragrances and their alleged popularity that spreads and clings like Japanese Knotweed, I do believe I have stumbled across one that I actually like. I’m afraid to buy it though, in case Escada think I want them to make more fruity florals.  I will stick to using my generous 2ml free sample, which I am currently plastered in. It’s rather lovely.

Now who is the clever Nose who has persuaded me to like a fruity floral scent? None other than our old friend Dominique Ropion. I told you he was versatile. In Escada Sexy Grafitti he has brought us a scent that bursts with Raspberries, Blackcurrant and Lemon in the opening notes. However, if, like me, you are thinking of dessert by now, you can rest assured that M.Ropion has kept it delicate and pretty and fresh, rather than smelling like something bees want to visit. (Are you listening Britney? I haven’t forgiven you for Midnight Fantasy aka Death By Candy Floss).

As the fruit falls away (apart from robust raspberry), the flowers come out to play. Violets are discernible, as is a touch of pretty Peony, and a little Lily of The Valley. In fact, the juxtaposition of all this produces another smell not unlike peppermint.  It’s fresh and playful with a hint of soapiness. Unlike many other fruity floral scents (and there are currently about 50 gazillion) I find this refreshing and light hearted rather than sticky and sickly. It ends with a faint touch of pale Woods and Musk, although the sweet Raspberry never really leaves at all.  I would also like to thank  M.Ropion for leaving out Melon and Peach. Thank Heaven for small mercies.

I have often ranted that there are too many fruity florals on the market, and I stand by that, but maybe in a cacophony of noise, you can sometimes pick out a sonata.

Robert Piguet FRACAS (EDP): Remarkable simplicity.

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 Fracas has been around since 1948 and was relaunched in 1998. It has been popular since its conception by the great Germaine Cellier (who I love just for making my beloved Balmain Jolie Madame).

Famous fans are rumoured to include  Supermodel Iman, Madonna, the late Edie Sedgewick,  the late, great Isabella Blow, and Joanna “Lovely”Lumley to name but a few (I left out Ivana Trump).

Fracas has inspired other perfumes too: Madonna’s Truth or Dare is said to be a homage to Fracas since it was her late Mother’s favourite scent. Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloe Original is a massive Tuberose, and not at all dissimilar.

I have been wearing Fracas today and could not help but admire it. It’s longevity is excellent, bordering on the clingy, like a guest that just won’t leave, but that’s no bad thing in a perfume.

I was surprised to see on Fragrantica that as many as 25 notes were listed for Fracas. After the admittedly fruity citrus top note, which smells similar to freshly sprayed Joy by Jean Patou, I got only one note in the drydwon. Tuberose. In spades, and shovels and with bows on. Tuberose has that unmistakable floral creaminess, rich and cloying, almost to the point of smelling medicinal, in the ways that Lilies can. I am growing to like Tuberose rather than love it, even though it has my great respect already.

I remember some years ago buying a 30ml bottle of KL Chloe Original, and passing it on after about a month of not getting on with it all. What I thought at the time were overly sweet flowers, was in fact a huge Tuberose note, so if you like Fracas, you might want to try Chloe Original. It’s usually not much more than around 15GBP for 30ml these days. Madonna’s Truth or Dare is even less, and not bad at all: surprisingly traditional and ladylike for one whose crotch seems so familiar to me.

Whilst I understand that Tuberose is very beautiful and greatly esteemed, I think it’s going to be something I grow into. At the moment I am not enamoured, although I do quite like its clean soapiness. Fracas is impossibly feminine and beautiful, and even though I’m not in love with it, it has certainly held my interest all day and I can’t stop sniffing it. I wish more people would wear it. I can certainly handle it on them, if not myself.

Classic and sophisticated, wear with a light hand, but do try it.

PS I have included a link to The Celebrity Fragrance GuideA fascinating list of celebrities’ favourite perfumes. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but I went into a trance whilst reading it- utterly compulsive and fascinating.

 

Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection:Dawn

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Being a huge fan of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and seeing that she has created a very affordable diffusion range, I was curious to try Dawn. I own a bottle of Endless, which is a  pretty floral musk, that lacks lasting power,  and I have briefly tried the mildly spicy Twilight (not to be confused with the Vampire/Wolf uber franchise) but it was only recently that I managed to bag a sample of Dawn.

I am pleased to report that it is utterly delightful and not remotely offensive. It could easily be worn first thing in the morning on a commuter train and everyone would be thinking of dew drops and flower petals, rather than “Somebody Open A Window!”

Opening notes are Citrus notes, Angelica and Violet leaf. I can’t vouch for the Angelica, because, to be completely frank, I have no idea what it smells like. The Citrus and Violet Leaf, I can indeed recognise, and it’s a lovely light-as-air combination. The middle note is Orchid Flower, which mingles nicely with the Violet, keeping this feminine and light. Base notes include the following (according to Fragrantica) Orris Root, Musk, Vetiver, Oakmoss and Vanilla.

What I actually got was Musk and maybe some Oakmoss (probably not the real thing, especially at this price!), with just enough to keep it Green rather than too Sweet. Orris root and Vetiver were on vacation  every time I smelled this.

Dawn stays light and airy, like petals. The Ozonic description would usually put me off, but this is a lovely light blue airy scent that would make an ideal gift for a young teenager who didn’t want to drown in anything heavy. The Violet Leaf completely won me over.

My sample led me to purchase a full bottle, and that happens less often than you might think. Longevity is a bit of an issue, but I always get round that by spraying clothes and hair to carry the scent for longer.

This is  a wonderful airy start to a day, like a breeze coming through a window, and would be great for office wear. It’s lightness makes it very sociable. This is a corker of a bargain too and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend if you like your scents breezy, light and feminine.

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Versace Baby Rose Jeans: As Seen On My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

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My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on the UK’s Channel 4 is compulsive viewing. If you live outside the UK, it’s a reality show following Traveller families as they get married, usually aged 16 and usually in a dress that weighs about three times what they do. They have a unique style all of their own: Over The Top doesn’t begin to cover it. They make Alexis Carrington look unkempt. The dresses often cost tens of thousands of pounds, and  on the episode I saw, the skirt alone contained 500 metres of Imagechiffon. That’s half a kilometre. I’m not sure I can even swim as far as that. With wedding dresses that are too big to get down the aisle, and so painful on the hips they have to strap nappies underneath, you can imagine what my most pressing question was:

What perfume goes with that dress?

So, with the help of my trusty Pause button last week, my question was answered. Versace Baby Rose Jeans was seen on more than one Traveller counterpane. I immediately ordered some samples.

Initially, this is positively chaste in its innocent girlishness. It opens with Violets, Hyacinths, Freesias, Lily of the Valley and Roses. What could be prettier and more innocent? However, the drydown allows the dominant Vanilla to creep in, and that’s where it all goes wrong. The Vanilla cheapens the light-as-air petals and converts what could be a pretty and light floral, into something akin to discount bin babywipes. Cloying, fuzzy and overly sweet, the flowers are wrapped in a big pink Vanilla blankie and made to smell like a 99p shop.

Shame though. The floral notes contain some of my favourites. Take the vanilla out (PLEASE!) and I would consider wearing this.  Sadly, it has been ruined by it. Next time I buy babywipes, I will buy unfragranced, just in case they remind me of Baby Rose Jeans.

NB All photos by Channel 4 the makers of this addictive programme.

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Thierry Mugler Alien: Like Fireworks- Wonderful But Loud

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 Like Angel,  Thierry Mugler Alien has its fans and critics, although it must be said that Alien is not quite as divisive as Angel (see my earlier review about the Marmite of Perfumes). As for Mugler’s other big hitter, Womanity, let’s just move on, shall we? (I’m still offended by that stinking shock.)

The Alien bottle is critically acclaimed, and quite right too. Its blank faceless angles with slightly hunched shoulders has a unique strangeness.  I was initially put off from testing Alien after deciding that Angel wasn’t for me. However, I was going through an Amber phase and was attracted to the notes, so decided to order a few samples from eBay.

I was pleasantly surprised. It’s rather Christmassy and rich, and reminded me a bit of Church and incense. The Amber is LOUD and sweet, like a deaf Aunt with no dress sense, but likable all the same.

The notes are few: just Amber, Woods and Jasmine. You can smell all three, although Mugler does like to turn the volume up. The Wood notes smell like church pews permeated by the waft of a passing thurible. The jasmine is at its dirtiest, and the Amber sweetens it all up and smacks its bum to finish it off. Its Woody richness may stem from the fact that this is said to be aged in oak casks, like brandy.

Many people are averse to this, and I can understand why. It is the kind of perfume I cannot wear in great measure.  Nor should anyone wear it in close quarters to another human or animal before 5pm. It’s just not fair. Even if you have a cold and can’t smell it, trust me, one squirt is enough and will last a long time. I’m only talking about the Eau de Toilette here. If you have the Alien Essence Absolue Parfum Intense, then please don’t leave your house for Health and Safety reasons. You will have people keeling over in your wake like a Pied Piper gone wrong.

Alien is like hearing a love poem shouted through a megaphone. Pretty, yes, but turn it DOWN.

There are flankers aplenty, but I still rate this as the original and best.

PS Due to not wearing my glasses once, I ended up calling this Aileen by mistake and its rather fondly become a nickname.  Thierry Mugler Aileen.
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Ô de Lancôme: Sparkle for Summer

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There have been almost three consecutive warm days here in Britain. Can we call it Summer yet? Granted Day Three was followed by freezing rain and wind, but trust me, three days still count.

When the weather is warm, it calls for a change in perfume as much as it calls for a change of clothes.  Wearing Gourmands in the hot sun just makes me feel sticky. Even Orientals must be super Lite. Personally, I think you can’t beat a good citrus or a shot of Bergamot when the temperature rises.

If I had to choose only one perfume to wear in the summer, I would have to say Ô de Lancôme narrowly gets my vote. In the top three would also be Chanel Cristalle, Guerlain Pamplelune, and maybe Yardley English Lavender, straight from the fridge.

What gives Ô de Lancôme the edge is that it is so unashamedly refreshing, that it almost crackles and sparkles on your skin when you apply it. It’s like ice cold lemonade, you can almost feel the tiny bubbles pop.

Top notes are , unsurprisingly  Lemon and Bergamot  with a crisp fresh hint of Orange, and a slight whisper of Honeysuckle. It’s the Lemon that dominates though.

Ô de Lancôme could almost be regarded as a spritz or cologne, so sharp and refreshing does it feel. However, it is worth taking this 1969 creation seriously. Oakmoss has been added (not real Oakmoss, thanks to IFRA, but it will do), along with Sandalwood and Vetiver. So what starts with high octane Lemons, slicing through a sultry heat, beds down into something more earthy and raw, but no less refreshing. In fact, it’s the perfect scent for a late afternoon. By evening, things will get a lot more interesting. Longevity is good. I could smell this in my wrist six hours after spraying it, albeit the Earthy, Woody base, but it was still there, doing its job.

Lancôme has also introduced Ô de Lancôme de L’Orangerie, which I can also vouch for, as well as Ô d’Azur de Lancôme. I‘ve tried the whole range, and they are all good, but I have a special place in my heart for the original.

This ladylike summer scent will never go out of fashion.

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